Last week, we reported the results of a new study, released by Harvard Medical School, proving the mental and psychological effects of yoga for teens. Our own evaluation of our Impact & Change programme (covering children in Key Stage 1 and 2) showed very similar results with children at Key Stage 2 demonstrating a remarkable 38% improvement across the 9 areas we monitored – confidence, self-esteen, ability to listen to and follow instruction, co-ordination etc.In this article we look at why children from the ages of 8 to 12 years benefit so much from yoga.
During these years, children mature very rapidly, with their interests, general knowledge, powers of thinking and reasoning all developing considerably. They want to be interactive, to take responsibility, to have a say in how things are done, to debate, question and argue. They are expected to behave in a more mature way, although their bodies and minds are going through a turbulent time as they get ready for the onset of puberty.
A key consideration when working with this age group is how to present the concept of ‘yoga.’ For some children the terms connected to yoga may be strange and alienating, while others may think it’s airy fairy nonsense.Peer group pressure carries a big influence at this age, and it is easy for this age group to be put off yoga related activities because they’re not regarded as ‘cool.’ Thankfully there are an abundance of well-known and highly successful people who have an established yoga practice, from footballers like Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale, to actors like Jake Gyllenhall and Jennifer Aniston, through to singers like Madonna and Lady Gaga.
What yoga gives children at this age is a series of techniques and exercises that they can use to increase their control, over their bodies and minds, and ultimately their lives. For children interested in sport, yoga will improve their concentration, focus and mind-body co-ordination, so improving their overall performance. It will also provide the foundation for healthy habits that stengthen and protect the body.For academically minded children, yoga will improve their concentration and provide tools to help them manage anxiety around exams. Creative children will be interested in how yoga will enhance their fluency and flexibility of thought.
In practice, all children derive these benefits, with the additional advantage that through the practice of yoga, they develop their social skills. As they learn to relate better to others, so they gain more poise and self-confidence. This helps to provide the foundation for a happy and successful life.
We’ve designed our Yoga’d Up programme specifically to help children to navigate this period of their lives with more ease. Weaving a full range of yoga postures into games and partner activities, children get a great work out as well as learning practical techniques for calming and focusing. So if your school doesn’t have our Yoga’d Up programme, you can now tell them all about the benefits!